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Most language learning resources focus on the process of what YOU can do to learn a language. But what I'm interested in is how a language is an organic, living, naturally occurring phenomenon, like rivers, trees, and humans, and what that has to do with efficient language learning, as well as what it has to do with the nature of life/God/the universe (as a bonus). The mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci used a set of numbers (Fibonacci numbers) to describe how rabbit populations expand. The numbers are 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, ... (each number is the sum of the previous two numbers). This "golden" ratio also describes flowers, trees, rivers, seashells, galaxies, and the human face. Language also grows this way in your mind -- particularly if you're a child. My goal is that it grow that way also in the mind of the adult. The way it looks is that for every language you grew up speaking there are a number of situations you've experienced in... read more

Learning a foreign language can be daunting, especially when you're a beginner and don't have the vocabulary to express yourself. Rote memorization works in the short term, but if that's how you're learning your vocabulary then your brain is more likely to forget the information later. I've studied a variety of foreign languages (though I'm not fluent in any of them (yet)): Spanish, French, Italian, and Mandarin Chinese. In all my years of study, I've only found one method that allows me to really internalize the words: Context.   The only way to really learn a new word is to use it in its own context. I'm not saying that saying, "Es un perro" (That is a dog) once will allow you to internalize "perro" (dog). You will need to use that word in context multiple times. One of my cousins lived in Spain for ten years, and she needed to use a word in context twenty (20) times before she had it down. For me, it depends on the word. If it's something... read more

10 Tips to Advance Your Second-language Learning Process Speaking a second language is a wonderful tool to have at your disposal. Not only is it fun and cool, but it opens doors to experience another culture in new, exciting and personal ways. And if you're working on speaking a language that others speak in your community, it can also open doors for you professionally. So, if you're itching for some tips to help advance your language learning process, have no fear…I'm here to share with you 10 of my trusty tips for how I learned to speak my second language! (How well do I speak it, you ask? Well, native Spanish speakers often think I’m a native Spanish speaker, just to give you some context.) These are all things that I did myself, so I’m confident in recommending them all to you! :) Let’s get started with some specific tips, and then move on to my more “philosophical” and general advice: 1. Watch television shows, movies and videos in your target language For those working... read more

Are you interested in learning Spanish but need a more structured course to help you get started? I have a great beginning Spanish curriculum that is ideal for the school-age or adult learner. The focus of the curriculum is to learn the basics to actually communicate in the language. Lessons are fun and are infused with language and culture. Contact me for more information on the classes I offer and how I can cater to your individual learning needs.

There are many arguments schools give for having Latin as a language course: Its being the basis for a host of other romance languages; its use in the legal or medical fields; and even (which is a bit far-fetched in my mind) for forming the mind to function more logically. Students who are obliged to take Latin will inevitably question reasons such as these or any reason a teacher or headmaster might give for studying Latin... and rightly so. If students are not satisfied with the answers teachers give, new answers should be sought, answers that get to the heart of the matter of “why Latin?” Anyone who speaks a handful of different languages can tell you that when they speak those languages they can sometimes take on a very different character. When I am with a group of Italian friends my way of communicating becomes much more ebullient, my need for personal space is instantly shed and an exaggerated intonation is applied to every word I say. Moreover, my facial features are... read more

Five major tips to making learning a foreign language fun:   1. Make it applicable to your life. Learn stuff that you think is important to you, things that you'll use the most often, and things that will stick.   2. Integrate the culture. Learning a language is more than just learning how to speak. You want to learn how to understand other people, and how they think.   3. Make it a part of your routine. Try to do something that you normally do in English in your target language, though you should keep it simple in the beginning. Read a short story in Italian, instead of a novel in English. Follow a recipe for a simple cake in French instead of a recipe for a cake with fondant decorations in English.   4. Get your friends in on the fun. Learning a language is undeniably a social activity. There's nothing more entertaining than trying to learn a language with your friends, and messing up while you do it... read more

Duolingo is a free website and mobile app for language learning. Lessons include translating sentences, identifying objects, repeating words and much more. It is a useful tool that I have been having a lot of fun with lately. I recommend to check it out if you are studying English as a second language, foreign languages, or you enjoy learning in your free time. 

As summer is in it's full groove , it gets harder for both ends to focus-tutors and students alike. We want to sit by the pool and soak up the sun. We cut our hours as a team to enjoy the short summer we get. Solutions to this? I find it easier to talk to the little ones in the target language while doing lounging activities . If a student wants to show me their summer game, I let them while speaking French or Spanish which is a more natural and motivated method in Teaching anyway . How can I apply this natural environment back to the classroom come fall? Adult leathers too are having a blast on vacation so their time spent tutoring gets shorter . Either way , I hope we both enjoy our short break and are ready to spring into action come the school year 

Summer is a great break for students and teachers alike.  However, students can experience a huge educational deficit by not being able to practice the language they have been studying by not being exposed to it during summer months.  There are some fun ways for them to practice their language skills during this much needed vacation.   Study Blue is a great site full of flashcards that kids can review and even take a quiz with.  There are a multitude of languages and other subjects that teachers and students have made.  Spending 10 minutes here a day can keep their minds refreshed.  As a parent, you can even monitor your child's time spent here and their scores on activities they attempt.   Specifically for French - Tex's French Grammar is a great site put together by the University of Texas that reviews French grammar - from very basic to advanced.  There are listening and written activities that students can complete and receive... read more

In addition to teaching full-time, I tutor students from ages 8-adults in French and Spanish. It is always exciting to watch my students in school grow and use their language outside of the classroom, but I was THRILLED to watch and hear my private students excel their levels too! I use the Ipad with my youngest student to privately tutor him and after a few sessions of not seeing him we reunited this past week. A game that was originally a challenge for him in French is no longer a challenge, he aced his 33 point test! It was even more exciting to hear him use the French language as second nature rather than reverting to English (using the language you want them to use at all is a huge accomplishment)! It is equally exciting when a student can identify what they like to use to learn and build their confidence because activities are familiar, which increases their acquisition since they aren't afraid. Student motivation is vital and seems easier with the adults. It is very helpful... read more

Hey all, I've decided to share some private thoughts with all of you.  It's nothing really touchy-feely, just some observations as I go through the process of studying and tutoring Japanese.   My ultimate goal is to become an educator, that is to say, a teacher or professor of Japanese at a high school or, more likely, at a university.  To do so, I have to take an OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview), which is a phone or in-person 20-40 minute conversation in Japanese, and I must score at least a "advanced-high" to be accepted to the graduate program of my choice.   Now, I am good in Japanese, but there are a great many holes in my education that I have to fill.  My undergraduate coursework extended to the intermediate level at my home university, and to a low-advanced level during my year studying abroad.  In the second semester we were told that we should be able to pass the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test)'s N2 level (the... read more

The Importance of Learning Critical Languages   Make yourself unique in whatever subject matter you pursue. Today, we will talk about languages that will land you a job much faster than you think.   The Problem: Americans need to clearly recognize that there is a deficiency of critical spoken languages in the U.S. The United States government has acknowledged that it seeks efforts to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages. Solution: In order to considerably diminish this debilitating problem, Americans need a strong network of critical language communicators that can quickly and efficiently bring defined segments of the nation up to speed in speaking critical languages. Approach: Americans should take the initiative to study, learn and master such languages using educational institutions, live human-interactive and intensive critical language instruction via the internet... read more

Step #1: Feed Your Brain Your brain likes new words that are connected to experience. So use as many of your five senses while you learn a new word. Are you learning action words? Get up and do them! Are you learning the names of household items? Collect them from your house and act out your sentences with them. Every time you add experience to your new word, you strengthen it in your memory. Step #2: Tell A Story A story is a good way to help you discover and remember new words. Learn a short proverb common to Americans, or draw your own story with stick figures. As you practice telling the story those new words will stick better and better in your brain. Step #3: Review Before You Go To Bed While you sleep your brain decides what information to store and what to forget. So spend some time before you sleep reviewing your new words. Don't worry about mastering them, just 10 or 15 minutes should do it. Then the memory of your new words will be strengthened... read more

One reason is because Spanish is one of the main languages that English is based on. In point of fact about 70% of the words in the English language are Spanish.  For this reason, Spanish is easy to learn. For example, the lasso is a Spanish word for a rope which is used to catch animals such as cattle. Some words like "incredible" are the same in English as they are in Spanish and they mean the same too. Others such as "importante" are almost the same in Spelling with the exception that you add an "e" to the end and the meaning is exactly the same as in English. There are also words that the Spanish have adapted from the English language such as Fax and cassette.  While it is true that the verb endings can be a pain to figure out, eventually you see the patterns in them and they become easier too. Also the verb endings do all the work for you in a sentence because they tell you the subject in the verb ending. For example, "Camina a la tienda... read more

Just to share some great resources! - flashcards (with pictures and audio) available through a downloadable program (or online through "List Central" - user-created content) - a language-learning community, language courses - flashcards with audio and pictures, user-created content - a language-learning community, podcasts, tutors, built-in dictionary - language information, useful phrases (often with audio), links to other resources - basics of several languages, flashcards, learning games - a language-learning community - language courses and translation practice - a great blog! - a language-learning community, language courses with audio/pictures/examples of vocabulary usage    

Many of my students dread conjugating verbs. They dread it even more when the verbs are irregular and have the same meaning!!  The verbs ser and estar both mean "to be", so what is the difference between the two?? Ser is used to describe things that are permanent or often unchangeable.  For example, Yo soy de Estados Unidos.(I am from the United States).  The form of ser used in the sentence is soy.  You can not change where you are from. Ser is also used to describe characteristics, professions, religions and nationalities.       Estar is used to describe things that are temporary. For example, Yo estoy en Florida para las vacaciones(I am in Florida for vacation). I am vacationing in Florida, but I am not from there.  There is a little rhyme that is printed in the textbook, Realidades, which helps you remember when to use the verb, estar.  The rhyme goes, For how you... read more

Many students have a fear of learning a foreign language.  Instead of approaching acquiring a new tongue as an exciting challenge, many approach it with the question "Why do we have to learn this?"  Learning a foreign language can be a wonderful experience.  Here a few of my "Dos and Don'ts" when approaching foreign language learning.   DO keep an open mind and be positive about learning something new. DO recognize the similarities of your native language and the new language that you are learning. DO review your notes from class everyday and practice at home. DO find a language/study buddy in your language class. DO think about your future and how a new language is going to benefit you with your future goals. DON'T be negative. DON'T be prejudice about a foreign language and its culture based on stereotypes. DON'T stop trying even when there are words that you do not understand or there is a chapter that is not... read more

  What type of learner are you? Learning a new language will require you to memorize vocabulary and grammar. The first thing I recommend is to determine whether you’re a visual, auditive or kinesthetic learner. How do you know? Let me share with you a rather simple trick. Pick two new words you want to learn. Read them several times. Can you remember them the day after? If yes, there is a great chance that you’re a visual learner. If no, ask someone to teach you 2 new words only by listening to them several times. But don’t look at them on paper. If you can remember those words the day after, you’re most probably an auditive learner. If no, read AND write two new words. Repeat them out loud. Listen to them. Picture them in your mind. Associate feelings or memories with them if you can. If you’ve failed with all the previous methods before, you should be able to remember them the day after because you’re probably a kinesthetic learner in this case. This... read more

I recently got a tip about this language-learning app from Duolingo and have been test-driving it on my iPhone for a few days in Spanish, a language I've never formally studied. And I like it, quite a bit in fact. As an ESL and German teacher of many years, and someone who has dabbled in a variety of other languages, I put a lot of thought and study into the process of learning language. Duolingo covers many of the important bases by incorporating key principles into its design: Activities for all four facets of language study: writing, reading, listening, and even speaking (you speak into your device's microphone and it judges your pronunciation).  Moving gradually from passive recognition (What does "Adios" mean? - choose from word bank) to active use (What is "Goodbye" in Spanish? - no word bank). Overlapping reviews, incorporating grammar and vocabulary from previous lessons into new lessons. An emphasis on... read more

I'm very excited to be living in the 21st Century.   I have tools at my disposal that didn't exist twenty years ago, technology that helps me mix traditional textbook teaching with websites that allow my students to hear spoken Italian and see it spelled out on a screen. I have word processing applications that let me see my students' work in big bold typed characters instead of handwritten hieroglyphics, hieroglyphics that do nothing to help them retain what they're trying to learn.   Unfortunately, there's a downside to progress.  Part of that downside is the idiotic notion that technology has stretched our brains to the point that we can all do several things simultaneously and do them all well.    Yeah, right; that's why people all over the country end up in morgues and hospitals, stubbornly insisting that can text, talk and drive at the same time.   Some types of multitasking do work;  I've been eating, drinking and watching TV simultaneously... read more

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